THE SAND PEBBLES
DIRECTED BY ROBERT WISE
MUSIC BY JERRY GOLDSMITH
ROBERT WISE PRODUCTIONS
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
MUSIC BY JERRY GOLDSMITH
ROBERT WISE PRODUCTIONS
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
Engineer Jake Holman arrives aboard the gunboat U.S.S. San Pablo, assigned to patrol
a tributary of the Yangtze in the middle of exploited and revolution-torn 1926 China.
His iconoclasm and cynical nature soon clash with the "rice-bowl" system
which runs the ship and the uneasy symbiosis between Chinese and foreigner on the river.
Hostility towards the gunboat's presence reaches a climax when the boat must crash
through a river-boom and rescue missionaries upriver at China Light Mission.
Written by Martin H. Booda
Steve McQueen ...Jake Holman
Richard Attenborough ...Frenchy Burgoyne
Candice Bergen ...Shirley Eckert
Richard Crenna ...Captain Collins
Emmanuelle Arsan ...Maily (as Marayat Andriane)
Larry Gates ...Jameson
Charles Robinson ...Ensign Bordelles
Simon Oakland ...Stawski
Ford Rainey ...Harris
l Joe Turkel ...Bronson
Gavin MacLeod ...Crosley
Joe Di Reda ...Shanahan (as Joseph di Reda)
Richard Loo ...Major Chin
Barney Phillips ...Franks
Gus Trikonis ...Restorff
Shepherd Sanders ...Perna
James Jeter ...Farren
Tom Middleton ...Jennings
Paul Chun ...Cho-jen (as Paul Chinpae)
Tommy Lee ...Chien
Beulah Quo ...Mama Chunk
James Hong ...Victor Shu
Stephen Jahn ...Haythorn
Alan Hopkins ...Wilsey (as Jay Allan Hopkins)
Stephen Ferry ...Lamb (as Steve Ferry)
Ted Fish ...Wellbeck
Loren Janes ...Coleman
Glenn R. Wilder ...Waldron (as Glenn Wilder)
Charles H. Maguire ... associate producer (as Charles Maguire)
Robert Wise ... producer
Richard McKenna ... (novel)
Robert Anderson ... (screenplay)
Steve McQueen got his only nomination for an Academy Award (Best Actor) for this film.
The steam engine was located in California and renovated for the film.
The whole engine room was built around it, on a sound stage.
The San Pablo was purpose built for the film, in Hong Kong.
She was actually powered by diesel engines: the black smoke from the stack came from old tires
and other rubbish fired in a special compartment on the boat.
After filming, the boat was sold and survived for some years with various building firms in the Far East,
finally using the name Nola D and being scrapped in Singapore in 1975.
Director Robert Wise was so proud of this film that he held yearly parties
with surviving cast members to celebrate it.
Emmanuelle Arsan, who plays Maily, is the very Emmanuelle who inspired the book and film Emmanuelle (1974),
as well as the subsequent Emmanuelle films.
The movie is often mistakenly described as being intended as an allegory for the Vietnam War,
but Richard McKenna, the author of the best-selling novel on which the film was based,
served on U.S. Navy gunboats in China during the 1930's and based the book on his own experiences.
The Vietnam War allegory, perhaps inevitably, was ascribed to the film by the press
on it's release in 1966, although not the original intention of the author, screenwriter, or director.
Steve McQueen gave writer Robert Anderson such a hard time,
that Anderson left the project after McQueen was cast.
Years earlier, McQueen was not cast in a play by Anderson and McQueen never forgave him.
Robert Wise's first choice to play Jake Holman was Paul Newman.
When original composer Alex North fell ill, 20th Century Fox exercised their right
to pull their contract composer Jerry Goldsmith from another studio's assignment- MGM's Grand Prix (1966).
This Twentieth Century Fox release marked their switch from their own Cinemascope process to Panavision.
Opening scenes were shot on the battleship USS Texas in Houston, Texas.
These shots of Machinist Mate First Class Jake Holman (Steve McQueen)
transferring off the battleship did not make it into the final print.
The engine used during the filming is now on display aboard the S.S. Lane Victory,
an original WWII Victory ship currently on display at the Port of Los Angeles,
next to the cruise ship lines. The engine is located below deck in a forward cargo hold.
The S.S. Lane Victory is the only operational Victory Ship in the World
in its original configuration and makes summer cruises from San Pedro to Catalina,
complete with a staged aerial attack en route featuring the AT-6 Texans of the famed
Condor Squadron of Van Nuys, California.
Pat Boone badly wanted the lead role. He says he believes he didn't get it
because director Robert Wise wanted a "real actor" instead of a singer-turned-actor.
During filming on the USS Texas at the San Jacinto Battleground outside Houston, Texas,
Steve McQueen sent waves of fear (and consternation) through director Robert Wise
when an old friend brought his Triumph motorcycle out to him -
McQueen jumped on the motorcycle and roared off, not returning for almost an hour.
Average Shot Length = 5 seconds
In 1966, Richard Attenborough (Frenchy Burgoyne) was hoping to direct a biopic of Mohandas K. Gandhi
and offered the role of the American photographer Margaret Bourke-White to Candice Bergen (Shirley Eckert).
After many setbacks, this came to fruition in Gandhi (1982).
Before the film premiered in New York City Twentieth Century-Fox set up a publicity tour
for Steve McQueen to promote it.
McQueen made rare TV appearances on the The Ed Sullivan Show (1948)
(aka "The Ed Sullivan Show"), What's My Line? (1950) and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962).
This film's opening prologue states: "CHINA 1926 . . . Ravaged from within by corrupt warlords . . .
oppressed from without by the great world powers who had beaten China to her knees a century before . . .
China . . . a country of factions trying to unite to become a nation . . . through revolution . . . "
Julie Christie turned down the role of Shirley Eckert.
The film takes place in 1926.
The weapon Jake (McQueen) uses in the movie is a B.A.R (Browning Automatic Rifle)
A powerful magazine fed automatic rifle, designed during the first world war,
entering service toward the end of WW1
At the end in the missionary's courtyard 2 Chinese soldiers are shot at the obelisk.
One falls in the right open portion the other falls to the left.
The left soldier disappears in subsequent scenes.
During the battle scene at the blockade, Holman is send forward on the port (left)
side with two men manning a BAR position.
When the main battery on San Pablo fires and hits the mast of a junk,
a group of men back aft near midships who are part of the boarding party
are seen laughing, Holman being one of them.
When Lieutenant Collins turns and faces aft to watch his men hurry to battle stations
before the battle at the boom, the view shown is from the stern deck house looking forward,
not what he is actually seeing from his position on top of the bridge.
Upon seeing the boom in the river, the Captain (Richard Crenna) leans forward grabbing the forward handrail.
In the next scene, he again leans forward grabbing the forward handrail.
When the San Pablo first gets underway Holman is wearing a clean set of dungarees,
yet in the next shot when he is noticing an engine problem,
he is wearing old, worn and dirty dungarees with no undershirt.
During one of the scenes where the San Pablo is in danger of being boarded by hostile Chinese,
the crewmen are issued Springfield rifles.
But they are not given any ammunition belts.
Even if the rifles were loaded, which they would not normally be while in storage,
they would hold only five cartridges (six with a round in the chamber).
Such a limited supply of ammo would not have been enough to turn back the large number of Chinese
if they had attempted to board the ship.
At the fight at the boom,the cannon on the USS Sand Pebble has a recoil cylinder
on top of the barrel but when fired, the barrel doesn't recoil.
There is also no recoil shown for the muzzle loading cannon on the Chinese Junks.
When Hollman reports aboard San Pablo, he salutes twice, once ostensibly for the National Ensign
and once to the Officer of the Deck. As it is after dark, the Ensign is not flying
and there is no saluting it.
During the final shoot out scene, the crickets never stop chirping.
They always stop when loud noises or movements are being made.
The Captain is shown on the bridge and behind him is shown a round black aluminum radar reflector.
Radar had not been invented in 1926.
The Machinist Mate First Class (MM1c) rate patch that Holman wears on his left shoulder
is a post 1941-type where the "crow" faces to its right side.
In 1926 when the movie is set, the crow on a Machinist Mate's rate patch faced left,
looking away from the wearer's face. After 1941, all USN petty officer rate patch
"crows" faced forward, like their wearer, to "face the enemy".
There are several scenes in which Browning Automatic Rifles are being reloaded
with fresh 20-round ammunition magazines. But the hollow sound made by the mags
while they are being inserted indicates that they are empty.
After Holman finds Frenchie dead, and the Chinese men grab Maily,
after knocking Holman out and running down the stairs you can see a stunt double for Maily is a man.
Just before shooting Po-Han with a Springfield rifle to put him out of his misery,
Holman makes a long-range adjustment to the rifle's rear sight.
Such an adjustment would not have been necessary, since Po-Han was fairly close to Holman.
Crew or equipment visible
Apparatus for simulating the gunshot wound in Richard Crenna's back, called a squib,
is quite visible as he runs away from the camera in the China Light courtyard.
USS Texas [BB-35], Houston, Texas, USA
Taipei City, Taiwan
Hong Kong, China
Tamsui, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Malibu Creek State Park - 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, California, USA (war zone)
Stage 16, 20th Century Fox Studios - 10201 Pico Blvd., Century City, Los Angeles, California, USA (studio)
The post was edited 2 times, last by ethanedwards ().